Monday, October 23, 2006

My Dictionary

Voice mail: “There’s a job available here that I think may interest you.”

In recent months I have had three similar contacts from former co-workers about job offers and my immediate supervisor is saying and doing things to encourage me not to consider retiring early. I get a sense of satisfaction knowing that I’ve developed my skills, maintained a good work ethic and have opportunities but the contacts don’t excite me. I am not interested in starting a new job doing what I’ve done for the last 21 years at three universities.

I’m thinking about retiring but not quitting work. I’m in the early summer of my life. I’m interested in new experiences and adventure. Julie and I have discussed Peace Corp, Habitat for Humanity, working in parks, hiking long distance trails, developing our property to be sustainable, walking across Europe and other options.

Making a living is easy. Making a good living takes a little more work but is easy. Living a real life is the challenge. How do I define real? Real -- for me, not for you or anyone else -- means experiencing life first hand rather than sitting in front of a damned television or looking out a window at passing traffic or reading a novel about fictitious people’s lives. I do all of these things occasionally but living a real life means experiencing my excitement, my successes, my failures and my pain while doing the things that interest and challenge me.

If my obituary ever appears in the paper, I don’t want it to recount my employment history and the name of the nursing home in which I died. I’d rather it end with words similar to “Due to the rugged terrain and deteriorating weather, the search for his body has been abandoned.” I like the sound of that. It brings a smile to my face, gives me pleasure and makes it difficult to sit still.

For me, that's really living. Your definition may be different. That's the wonderful thing about life. Each of us gets to write our own dictionary.


Blogger Buffalo said...

Right on! Well said, Paul!

10/23/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You seem disgustingly healthy. Go for it!

10/23/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger MojoMan said...

Even though I'm a little younger than you (52), for some reason I don't yet understand, I've been thinking about the end a little bit lately. (I'm sure it's just a passing phase.) I hadn't considered your 'lost in the wilderness' scenairo. It certainly gives me something to think about!

10/23/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Whitesnake said...

My obituary will simple read....

"Told ya I was Sick!"

10/23/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Man do I envy you your choices! Habitat for Humanity sounds like a real good choice, hell, you might even get to swing a hammer with Jimmy, the only honest president we ever had.

10/23/2006 03:06:00 PM  

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